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QueenOnline on Tour: Notes From The Road Part 10

Late afternoon in Saskatoon. Wow, now I'm dealing in poetry and rhyme.

"I just shook Brian May's hand. How about that? Quite the deal for me, big fan, big fan." - The security guard sat outside our production office backstage. 

Bless him. I get that, I really do, I STILL do. I am fan of many artists and it can still be a thrill no matter if you work in this business or not. There are plenty of people I would like to say hi too, not that I chase that kind of thing.

Roger has turned up for sound check looking pretty suave; he's wearing a black trilby. Classy. I told him so too.

He popped in a little later, pulled up a chair and we discussed the Chicago show and he asked about the reaction online to the first couple of shows. I showed him the Foo Fighter clip of them covering ‘Under Pressure’ which he liked and finally, I asked him if he was enjoying himself as he was leaving..."Oh yeah!" he grinned.

Sound check is blasting out at as I type this. It has consisted of THAT solo from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody; Brian cranking the riff to 'Stone Cold Crazy' and 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', all of these are instrumental, although Adam was with them on stage (I just popped out to see what was going on). Adam eventually then started to warm up under Spike's guidance to 'Somebody To Love', before nailing 'Don't Stop Me Now' and 'Killer Queen' with the full band. They also tinkered with a small section of 'In The Lap Of The Gods'.

OK, 'Bus Life' as promised.

It's not as bad as you think. Having said that I'm only out here for 2 and half weeks, I might feel differently after 6 weeks hammering the highways. We have 4 buses shipping us around and no, for those of who have asked, Brian, Roger and Adam do not have a bus, they fly between the dates with management and their teams.

It is important to note that as soon as the show ends at 10.15pm or so, the guys leap into action to break the show down and load out and we are normally clear and ready to hit the bus by 2.30am and travel to the next venue, so in most cases a lot of the 44 crew have pulled roughly 19 hour days. Prior to getting the bus everyone will have a shower between the hours of about 12am and the 2.30am mentioned, the venue provide the towels and the facilities, we all bring a 'day bag' which contains a change of clothes and wash bag. Most change into 'comfies'. Baggy shorts or bottoms, a fresh T-shirt, hoodie and flip-flops are pretty standard. The dirty, stinky roadie tag seems a thing of the past.

"We're a bus." That means everybody is on and lets move on out.

We have 12 bunks, two sets of six either side of the gangway in the middle of the bus, and there is a seating area at the front with a table, TVs, and the 'kitchen', with another to the rear. The sleeping arrangements all start with the most senior member of the bus picking his bunk, in our case it was Head Carpenter and fellow Essex boy Keano who got first dibs, after that it was a free for all. I have a middle bunk on the right side towards the back; I think I am over a wheel. The bunks are actually pretty comfy and you have curtain that blocks much of the light, it took a while to get used to it, but it is 'coffin-like' and after doing such long days you do sleep and well, I think the motion of the bus helps too. The longest stretch on my tenure was when we did 15 hours from Chicago to Winnipeg. Oh, and you have to sleep with your feet facing to the front for safety reasons so you don't crack you head should we brake.

First and last rule of touring on a bus. No solids in the toilet, from either end. Let's move on shall we?

The bus has a regular turn over of drinks and snacks on the bus which is called 'bus stock', this is refreshed everyday by the catering boss Pete. In the beverage department, it currently includes a selection of juices, beer and wine, plus there is a constant supply of bottles of water. Food-wise there is always bread, crisps, spreads, chocolate, fruit and cold meats to tuck into. Once again, going back to the time we all eventually look to leave the venue there will be some food specially prepared for us as we board. After the Winnipeg show it was a huge platter of sushi, once again, not the sort of image you have of a road crew, all of use stilling there with little plates, chop sticks and discussing pickled ginger and who likes wasabi and who doesn't.

Our driver is called Scott. He's a very nice man. Just thought I would give him a mention. That is about it, we all get on, we talk nonsense most of the time as most guys do, some people read, others watch TV; the World Cup being on is helping too.

Nothing to do with the bus, but I thought it worthy of inclusion. Laundry - we do, do it.  We just stick it all in a bag, attach an envelope to it with $20 inside and your name on it, take it to the production office and our runner takes it away, it all comes back by the end of the day. Again, the grimy on the road image is something of a myth.

Oh and I need a haircut, I need to get to our next day off and sort it out. Get myself a 'local' trim.

The next two days will be tough, we have a 'back to back'; Saskatoon and Edmonton, that means load out, on the bus for just 4 hours, then straight into the venue for another long day, no day off in between. See you on the other side!

"Shook Brian May's hand, oh yeah." Our security guard has just told someone else of his Queen related experience, he really is dining out on this one. You can see him holding court on Christmas Day at the dinner table rolling out that tale, I bet he'll embellish it too as time goes on. "So there I was jamming with Brian...." 

Nick

(Edit: I have just come back stage mid-way through the show here in Saskatoon...my goodness, what a crowd, you guys are smashing it, what a noise!)

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26 Comments

QueenOnline on Tour: Notes From The Road Part 10

Yvette

Hi Nick. When trying to describe the magnitude of the Once in a Life time Queen tour that was coming, I had a hard time putting it into words. Then Bri tweeted that photo of all the SEMI TRUCKS that would Truck n Roll the stage around the country. All I had to do is show that photo..And I showed it A Lot...and people were in awe!! You could see them trying to wrap their brain around it. So thanks for all the info and tell the guys thanks too for all their hard work!

Lennie

Nick- I have a plea! Please will somebody update the set list typo! "Fat Bottom Girls" should be "Fat Bottomed Girls"

Total pedant... but Brian would appreciate the attention to detail ;)

Lennie

Wendy Cohen

Despite the extremely long days and hard work, I know you're enjoying it. Reminds me of my youth, touring with "Sound of Music", not nearly so posh accommodations as yours. You've got a long road ahead. Best wishes to you and the gang.

donnaw

Hey Nick!
LOVE the blog.....as soon as i see you've posted a new one, i'm there!!! You write pretty well....might have missed your calling....how about a book of experiences on the road?? Best Seller!

I'm TOTALLY hooked on reading everything i can find about this tour....i know, i have no life......

The reviews are all incredible....most surprising are all the "turn-around" opinions of old time Queen fans who did'nt think Adam was right for the part......YEP, i'm gloating....love him to pieces, and LOVE Queen too....i saw WWRY in London 5 times.....and i'm from the states!!

Anyhow, i'm rambling.....i'll miss your posts...don't ya wanna stay? I know you do....talk to the guys...i think something can be worked out...what will we do without you??!!

ps. Is Rufus as hot as his dad? He sure looks like a reincarnation of him!! :o)

donnaw

Hey Nick!
LOVE the blog.....as soon as i see you've posted a new one, i'm there!!! You write pretty well....might have missed your calling....how about a book of experiences on the road?? Best Seller!

I'm TOTALLY hooked on reading everything i can find about this tour....i know, i have no life......

The reviews are all incredible....most surprising are all the "turn-around" opinions of old time Queen fans who did'nt think Adam was right for the part......YEP, i'm gloating....love him to pieces, and LOVE Queen too....i saw WWRY in London 5 times.....and i'm from the states!!

Anyhow, i'm rambling.....i'll miss your posts...don't ya wanna stay? I know you do....talk to the guys...i think something can be worked out...what will we do without you??!!

ps. Is Rufus as hot as his dad? He sure looks like a reincarnation of him!! :o)

Jill Wautlet

to Manhatten's comment below - Nick's totally joking about the Glamberts...it's kind of an inside joke our friend Doug who drove Nick in CA is a native Wisconsinite & a bunch of us Glamberts know him....he had jokingly warned Nick about us in a fun way not a negative way! Nick already knows we're the sweetest bunch of fans from his experiences so no worries... it's just part of his humor ~ :) btw Nick - once again love the blog today you never disappoint & I concur - high fives, love & gratitude to the crew...I had no clue!! (now who's rhyming - LOL!!) truly tho i'm intrigued by what a production it is impressive & I for one don't take it for granted so THANKS to all!! :)

Mal

What is trilby please? I can see why time on the road is limited ===seems a little grueling, those long days. How exciting while it lasts, however, and great memories to share with friends and family. You have been a joy to read. Thank you.

Marilyn Cole

Another great blog. It's really fascinating to read about all the little bits involved in a tour. Please keep it up as long as you're with the tour. Is someone replacing you when you go home?

charlie

hi nick,
can you tell us why don't stop me now wasn't played in chicago and was later added? what went into the original decision and then the change? thank you!

Dana Reese

Nick, what fun it is to see the tour through your eyes! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations with us. I am in Texas and am looking forward to seeing Queen and Adam in Houston then Dallas.....I know...back to back shows. I will be thinking of you.

Cameron Willson

NICK!! You need to tell the crew that the crews on Adam's Idol Tour stapled all the under garments under the stage. Maybe he kept the men's bikinis but there sure was a lot of panties and bras up there! Also try to find the infamous 'toy' kick back into the audience! And I don't mean it was a stuffed animal! Lol!

Jo

Hah Nick I love your blogs and they're getting more and more detailed, which is great, I'm learning such interesting stuff about touring and Queen behind the scenes. Wish they would handcuff you to your bus and not let you go home! Sorry but yeah. How will we know what behind the scenes is like at the Forum? And Vegas? Oh and most of all, Madison Square Garden???

Dion

Tell the band that Saskatoon was the concert of the century! Seen the Stones... ACDC... Crüe... None could compare!

Dion

Tell the band that Saskatoon was the concert of the century! Seen the Stones... ACDC... Crüe... None could compare!

Mary Covietz

Really enjoy reading your daily Road-trips. What fun it seems plus alot of work and I bet you'll miss this adventure when you have to leave.
Thanks so much! Gives us fans an insight as to what goes on during a tour.

Joe

Really enjoying the tour notes. It is great to get a backstage perspective on the band, crew and everything related to putting on such a huge show. One thing I am curious about is how scaled down the rig will be for the Merriweather Post show. It is interesting that Queen chose to play an outdoor amphitheater when the tour is essentially an arena rock tour. The stage at Merriweather is pretty small. I assume the same goes for the Vegas shows at the Joint as well.

sarahjane Lambert

Nick thank you so much for writing the tour notes . I really love reading them , it's like a look behind the scenes for us . I also know the shows would not happen without yourself and the crew , so a massive thank you .

Shaunna

great notes from the road, Nick. (puts that bit from within Joni's masterpiece Hejira concerning life on the road, "...your life becomes a travelogue of picture postcard charms" to mind.) thanks for sharing pieces of the travelogue.

Andrew

Dear Nick, first of all thank you and all the crew for bringing all that magic to life, and thank you for all the insight you give us. For people back at home really gives us a sort of being there in spirith. And for those of us who currently cannot be at the show in the public, it gives us a sort of feeling of not being complitely unaware of the tour going on, you can imagine being there unless you'll be able to. Best whishes for future dates. Thanks again for everything

Yvette

Nick..please don't go..we'll miss your great stories! I look forward to this. So grateful for you taking us all along for the ride.

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